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article imageScientists drill into volcano to obtain energy

By Tim Sandle     Dec 15, 2016 in Science
In an impressive technological feat, scientists and engineers have succeeded in drilling a borehole into a volcano in Iceland with the aim of using the intense heat as an energy source.
The volcano is located in the south-west of Iceland and once the drilling is complete it will be, by far, the world's hottest borehole. A borehole is a narrow shaft bored in the ground. Such holes are typically used for the extraction of water, other liquids (like petroleum), gasses; or for geological exploration.
The new borehole is being drilled on the Reykjanes peninsula, where a large rig has been built on the black larva. The volcano is said to be 'safe', having last erupted some 700 years ago. The peninsula, inhabited by around 22,000 people, is marked by active volcanism under its surface. There are many hot springs and sulfur springs in the southern half of the peninsula. The drilling is operated by the Icelandic energy company HS Orka.
The aim of the Iceland Deep Drilling Project (IDDP) is to draw steam upward from the deep well to the surface. This will, in theory, provide an important and readily usable source of energy. The steam will be captured using established geothermal technology methods which turn steam into electricity. At the depth there is supercritical steam, which is similar to that produced by a pressure cooker or laboratory autoclave.
A spokesperson for the project, Asgeir Margeirsson, told BBC Science: "We hope that this will open new doors for the geothermal industry globally to step into an era of more production. That’s the aim — that’s the hope. We have never been this deep before, we have never been into rock this hot before, but we are optimistic."
The completion of the drilling is expected before the end of December 2016. One complete, the boring will have reached five kilometers deep. Here the temperatures within the volcano are expected to exceed 500 degrees Celsius (around 932 degrees Fahrenheit).
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